City of Ontario Mayor and City Council Approve Balanced Fiscal Year 2015-16 Budget
On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, the Ontario Mayor and City Council unanimously approved a structurally balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2015-16 during a public special City Council Meeting.The total overall budget of $491,951,228 was balanced without the use of any reserves or one time monies. Moreover, the budget provides funding to support high quality municipal services, maintenance and expansion needs of the City’s infrastructure and facilities, and the investment and reinvestment of City resources into the Community.According to Mayor Paul S. Leon, “The City of Ontario has a strong record of adopting conservative fiscal policies, creating responsible partnerships with our labor groups, and providing the residents of Ontario with stability and a healthy community. This budget delivers on our commitment.”The City Council adopted one primary goal and eight supporting goals to guide City staff and community investments over the next fiscal year. The primary City Council goal remains: Regain Local Control of the Ontario International Airport.Mayor pro Tem Alan D. Wapner stated, “I’m pleased that the City Council continues to allocate funds to transition the management and operation of the Ontario International Airport to local control under the Ontario International Airport Authority. This endeavor remains our City’s number one priority as the Ontario International Airport is our region’s most important economic and jobs engine.”Ontario’s budget document indicates that the local economy is showing signs of steady improvement with stronger gains reported in sales tax revenues, home price increases, and a decline in the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent. Sales tax revenues for the 4th quarter of 2014 grew approximately 10 percent compared to a year ago, due to higher consumer spending in retail and new auto sales. Low mortgage rates and a reduced housing inventory helped create a 10 percent increase in median home prices in Ontario as compared to a year earlier. Home sales were also up 17.4 percent as a result of home buyers being pushed out of the Los Angeles and Orange County markets due to the higher home prices in those regions.Council Member Jim W. Bowman said, “The improved local economic conditions have allowed us to approve a budget that returns this revenue stream to our residents. This year, we will oversee $42 million in various capital improvement projects throughout the City and invest another $5.1 million into improving our streets and traffic signals. This will have a significant positive impact on our residents, businesses, and visitors.”Public safety has also been identified in the budget as a City Council priority. The City Council allocated funding for a new police helicopter, facility improvements at the Police Department, funding for a fire training tower, fleet vehicle enhancements, and the renovation of Fire Station No. 2, which is located at 544 West Francis Street and originally opened in 1983.Council Member Debra Dorst-Porada stated, “Ontario continues to provide the highest level of public safety services to our residents, businesses, and visitors. Our reputation as the strongest job growth center in the region is a result of a pro-active economic development strategy and a simple commitment to our community: We will invest in tools and resources that contribute to a safe and prosperous community.”Other budget highlights include:
- $15.9 million for converting the parkway irrigation along historic Euclid Avenue to recycled water in response to the Governor’s Executive Order regarding drought conditions.
- $5.2 million to provide a major recycled water line along Riverside Drive to service both new and existing residential neighborhoods.
- $7 million for the widening of Mountain Avenue and Holt Boulevard.
- $4.8 million for the widening of Grove Avenue and Holt Boulevard.
- $500,000 for improvements and projects at City parks and community centers including the installation of energy efficient induction lighting, renovation of park restrooms, resurfacing of basketball courts, and the rehabilitation of a community pool deck.
City Manager Al C. Boling closed the special City Council Meeting by thanking the Mayor and City Council for creating a stable political climate and providing cohesive leadership and clear fiscal policy direction.